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Jason Schreier's Top 10 Games Of 2019 – Kotaku

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It’s been a challenging year for many reasons here at Kotaku—well, really just one reason—and I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that 2019 had a lot of really cool video games. Let’s talk about them, shall we?

From lightsabers to logic puzzles, here are my top ten games of the year, starting with three games that completely blew me away followed by seven games I loved a lot.

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Outer Wilds

Combining the time-hopping structure of Majora’s Mask with the ambitious spacefaring of Metroid, Outer Wilds is one of the best games I’ve ever played, period. It’s a treat to play through, a cerebral and rewarding archaeological adventure through deep space and goofy ancient alien civilizations. The controls take some getting used to, but once you’ve started getting the hang of Outer Wilds’s rhythms, unraveling its mysteries is a real joy. And the music! The music! What a game, what an accomplishment, what an ending, what an experience. If you haven’t played this, please do. [Played on: PC]


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Disco Elysium

Take the old-school isometric gameplay of Planescape: Torment, strip out the combat, and stuff it full of brilliant stories to create Disco Elysium, a game about decay, communism, and choosing whether or not to stick your thumb in your ass. Although it’s really more of a visual novel than a role-playing game, Disco Elysium should appeal to anyone who loves narrative, great writing, and games that make you really sit and ponder the potential consequences of your decisions. Plus you can have a heart attack from kicking a mailbox too hard. [Played on: PC]

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Baba Is You

One of the fundamental principles of game design is to take an idea, introduce it to the player in as simple as way as possible, and then find ways to make it increasingly more complicated or subverted throughout the game. Baba Is You executes this principle about as well as any game I’ve ever played. The concept is straightforward: every word is an object or state, and every sentence is a rule. Beating a level requires you to make contact between whatever object is “You” and whatever object is “Win.” All you can do is move in the four cardinal directions and push words and objects around. The first few levels are straightforward. Then, things start getting trickier. The words grow more complicated, the objects are placed in tougher locations, the levels start to convince you you’re a genius for solving them. Soon enough, you’ll feel like you’ve ascended to your very own version of the galaxy brain meme. [Played on: Switch]

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

This was the year I really fell in love with From Software games—after only sort of appreciating them before—so it’s no surprise that Sekiro blew me away, even if I did get stuck on that Genichiro fight (stupid lightning) and had to stop playing for a while. What I love most about this game is the verticality. Hopping around and flinging yourself through the air with a grappling hook is just about as fun as it gets, even when you know that every time you die, one of your buddies gets the plague. [Played on: PC]

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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Whereas most of my favorite games of 2019 were innovative and original, sometimes you just have to appreciate a good piece of comfort food. Jedi Fallen Order takes the best parts of every AAA game out there—the sword fighting of Sekiro, the power climb of Metroid, the cinematic scale of God of War, the climbing of Uncharted—and puts them all in a beautiful, well-designed package that never feels stale. It’s also got the best Star Wars story of the year by far. [Played on: PC]

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Control

I have an appreciation for video games that feel like novels, and Remedy’s Control is up there with the best of them, combining smooth, satisfying combat with a clear artistic point of view. The ending is a little underwhelming, but exploring the Oldest House is really delightful, and the art direction is something to behold. Also, you can fly. [Played on: PC]

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Dragon Quest Builders 2

The first Dragon Quest Builders was a lovely surprise, a combination of Dragon Quest and Minecraft that out-shined them both. The second improves upon its predecessor in just about every way, streamlining some of the first game’s fiddlier aspects and adding some grand new features, like a Breath of the Wild-style hang-glider that lets you soar across the map. Perhaps my favorite part of the game is that you can go explore other people’s creations. I’ll never have the time or wherewithal to build a massive, bustling town in Dragon Quest Builders 2, but I sure am glad other people did. [Played on: Switch]

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses

There are nearly 20 screenshots on the Nintendo Switch page for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but not a single one contains actual gameplay. They’re all just anime characters in different poses. Really, is there any better way to sum up this game? [Played on: Switch]

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Shovel Knight: King of Cards

This year marked the end of the Shovel Knight saga, which started with a humble Kickstarter in 2013 and somehow morphed into five games along the way. The developers at Yacht Club Games have clearly honed their platforming design skills over those years, as King of Cards is the best one yet. The levels are short, sweet, and full of secrets. The optional card game is better than you’d guess. And King Knight—the petulant, horrifying hero of this prequel story—has a Wario-like heft to his moves that make the game feel weighty and really satisfying. [Played on: Switch]

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CrossCode

This is a bit of a cheat. Technically, CrossCode came out last year, but I didn’t discover it until the end of December, and it became one of my go-to games throughout 2019. CrossCode is a modern take on a Super Nintendo action-RPG (think: Terranigma et al) but adds enough unique twists to feel special. It’s a single-player game, but it’s set mainly within a fictional MMORPG called CrossCode, allowing for some interesting storytelling and many good jokes. (Some of your party members might duck out because they have to log off and do their homework.) The combat feels great, the bosses are tough and satisfying, and the dungeons are full of brilliant Zelda-style puzzles. (The overworld is full of puzzles, too. If you like puzzles, this is the game for you.) This is one of those games that will likely get a ton of attention next year when it comes to Switch, so if you play it now, you can be ahead of the curve. [Played on: PC]

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Runners-up: AI: The Somnium Files, Zelda: Link’s Awakening,

Game I got into this year for the first time and, holy shit man: Bloodborne

Games that might have made the list if I’d had time to play more of them:  Luigi’s Mansion 3, Astral Chain, Judgement, Untitled Goose Game, Guildlings

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Game I know I’d absolutely love if I had the time to play it: Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers 

Game I need to play more for reasons beyond fun: Ring Fit Adventure

Website I wish hadn’t been murdered: Deadspin

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Facebook says remote working move could slow jobs growth in Ireland

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Facebook still plans to “aggressively” grow staff numbers in its European headquarters in Ireland but a company-wide policy allowing permanent remote work from other countries could slow that growth over time, its Irish chief said on Friday.

Ireland’s economy is hugely reliant on multinational firms that employ around one in eight Irish workers and any move to facilitate remote working abroad would add to the challenge already posed by a planned global corporate tax overhaul.

Facebook, which is one of Ireland’s largest such employers with around 3,000 full-time staff and another 3,000 contractors, will allow some workers to permanently relocate after more than a year of many working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible employees in Facebook offices in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom will be able to move to another one of those locations. U.S.-based staff can also move to Canada, it added.

Facebook Ireland’s Gareth Lambe said it was still working out how many Irish-based employees would be eligible to take advantage of the policy. Fewer than half of its staff are Irish nationals.

“We’re going to continue to grow aggressively,” he told national broadcaster RTE, citing a move in the next year or two to a new 57,000 square metre campus in Dublin that it intends to fill with 7,000 employees.

“This won’t have on balance a material impact on the growth of employment for Facebook in Ireland,” he said, referring to the remote working policy. “We have a target this year of adding about an additional 700 employees and we’re going to continue to do that and we’re going to continue to grow,”

“But this is a significant evolution and in the future over the coming years and decades, it is possible that the growth of jobs and numbers may not be as fast in Ireland as it would have been before it.”

Lambe said Facebook’s main Europe, Middle East and Africa decision makers will continue to be based in Dublin, meaning its corporate tax status will not change. However those permanently relocating abroad would no longer pay income tax in Ireland.

Responding to the move, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said one of the consequences of the pandemic will be a lot more mobility of workers across national borders but that foreign direct investment will remain “an indispensable part” of Ireland’s economic model.

 

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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Apple hires former BMW executive for car project

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Apple Inc has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive at BMW AG’s electric car division, to help its vehicle initiatives, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Kranz will report to Apple veteran Doug Field, who led development of Tesla Inc’s mass-market Model 3 and now runs Apple’s car project, the report said.

Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when Apple first started designing its own vehicle from scratch.

In December, Apple said it was moving forward with its self-driving car technology and targeting to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology by 2024.

 

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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Amazon SideWalk in Canada

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Amazon is ready to initiate the sidewalk throughout the world including Canada. So many people are concerned about what exactly is a sidewalk and should you be concerned in any way?

Well to put it simply amazon sidewalk is a new way of communication where amazon creates a network by using its echo devices and other devices. What is going to happen is that these devices would be using your home’s internet connection and creating a small network for communication. Using the ring and echo devices this will be executed where they would be forming a bridge (as the company calls it) between the two devices. While these various bridges would be used to create networks.

Amazon said this is done for easier connections and simpler setups even when your wifi goes out. Which would allow you to use title trackers and find pets easily. You would not have to spend 500 dollars on those devices but rather just use this to get updated information on your belongings. This is going to get a lot of people hooked on the devices. Using your ring and echo devices without your own internet connection sounds pretty good but is there a hidden reason for amazon to become an ISP on its own well that is something only time will tell.

So now the question is should you be concerned about this?

Well if you own an amazon echo device you will have to ask Alexa to opt you out of it because this is going to come in as activated by default. This means that you will need to put in some effort to change this if for any reason you don’t want to be a part of this program.

There are tutorials online that would help you to opt-out of this by using your Alexa app on your phone.

Another concern is that this is not the first time a company has done something like this. Apple has enhanced the find my network in a similar manner with the introduction of air tags and have responsibility for finding phones, and things using other users devices that might not know that their device is being used in the process.

Well most common people that are using the internet nowadays are more concerned about the data that is being used by these huge corporations and who are they gathering and using the data for their personal and private benefits. Additionally are data sharing policies being used and met with proper standards. Creating a rule is one thing and following it is completely another.

What bodies are placing a check on whether the huge tech giants are following these steps or not? These are the big questions with few answers and to think that now the internet is being owned by one of these giants. I mean the real question everyone should be asking is how big can these giants become and what kind of influence they hold onto our lives in the future?

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